Did you know that January is National Soup Month? We didn't either but it gave us a great topic for this month's Cooking from the Collections feature! We whipped up two creamy, comforting vegetable soups that are sure to warm you up. We're happy to say that although they are the simplest recipes we've tried, they were also the most lauded by our SIL tasters (well, those without lactose issues, that is). Turns out you can't go wrong with butter and milk, flavored with a smidgen of vegetables. A cooking textbook from 1915 demonstrates that Paula Deen wasn't the first to hit upon that successful formula!
Green Pea Soup
This recipe comes from the fascinating A text-book of cooking by Carlotta C. Greer, published in 1915. As the title indicates, it was designed as a textbook to accompany cooking classes and hidden in the "Body-Building Vegetables" chapter was this gem. Despite the healthy-sounding name, this soup was so very rich and creamy that one taster commented "That soup should be a sauce". In fact, the basis of the dish is a simple white sauce, flavored with a bit of mushed peas. I take partial blame for the meager amount of vegetables, though. The recipes instructed me to cook the peas until "very soft". It occurred to me later that my modern idea of peas that are soft are probably still undercooked by 1915 standards. In addition, I found that mashing something through a strainer takes some serious upper body work! My weak biceps, combined with peas that may have been a bit too hard, produced little pea puree. Next time I will cook the peas to my desired level of doneness and then blend them with the cooking water using an immersion blender. You can read more of Greer's recipes via the digitized copy on Google Books here!
- 1 pint or can peas
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 2 cups water (or liquid from canned peas)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk
- Add peas, water and sugar to a saucepan and cook until peas are soft.
- Drain the peas and press through a strainer (as I mentioned this didn't work out so well for me, perhaps a food mill would be better?). Set aside.
- Heat butter in saucepan until bubbling and then add flour, salt and pepper. Stir constantly until flour is golden brown. Slowly wisk in the milk and simmer until sauce has thickened.
- Stir in pea puree and serve.
Cream of Tomato Soup
Our tasters also enjoyed this cream-based vegetable soup, from Cooking with Sour Cream and Buttermilk, published by the Culinary Arts Institute in 1956. The sour cream added a bit of tang but the real surprise ingredient here is Accent, a brand of seasoning containing monosodium glutamate (MSG). We don't necessarily endorse the use of MSG, but our fore-warned tasters reported not ill side effects from their limited exposure. Is it the Cream of tomato Soup of my childhood? No, that soup always will come from a can.
- 2 1/4 cup of No. 2 tomato juice (unsure of what "No.2" indicated, we used regular Campbell's)
- 1 stalk of celery with leaves, cut crosswise into quarters
- ½ small onion, sliced
- 2 springs of parsley
- ½ bay leaf
- 6 whole cloves
- 1 ½ teaspoons of sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- A few grains of white pepper ( I used black pepper, did not see purchasing white pepper for the use of a few grains)
- 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, blend in 2 tablespoons of flour
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- ¼ teaspoon of monosodium glutamate or Accent
- Few grains of pepper
- ¾ cup of milk
- ¾ cup thick sour cream
- Combine in a saucepan tomato juice, vegetables, spices, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to boiling, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 min.
- Meanwhile, prepare in a large saucepan the Sour Cream White Sauce. Heat butter, salt, pepper and Accent over low heat until mixture bubbles. Gradually stir in milk. Cook rapidly, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens. Remove from heat. Stirring vigorously, add in very small amounts thick sour cream. Cook 2 or 3 min longer, stirring constantly until sauce is just heated.
- Strain tomato juice mixture. Add it very slowly to the hot white sauce, stirring constantly and vigorously with a wooden spoon: DO NOT BOIL.
- Serve immediately.